The former head of the British Army, independent crossbench peer Lord Dannatt, used his speech during the debate in the House of Lords yesterday, to attack the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, saying its process was “an abuse”, and saying that it went against what he “spent 40 years of his professional life upholding”.

Peers will continue debating the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill as part of its second reading in the Upper House from 3pm this afternoon. Two thirds of the 93 peers who had signed up to speak at the debate spoke yesterday.

Lord Dannatt said: “I believe that the process of this Bill to date has been tantamount to an abuse of process, which as a member of the mother of parliaments I am deeply unhappy about.

“Following due process and procedure is a principle that I spent the 40 years of my professional life upholding.”

He continued to say that he thought the bill had been “fast-tracked”, and that he could not accept it, deeming it “an abuse of the democratic process”.

“We fought for the ballot box for 38 years in Northern Ireland. We stood for democracy against communism for 44 years in Europe. We stood for the democratic rights of self-determination in the Falklands in 1982 and we still do. And now as a Parliamentarian I am asked to accept an abuse of the democratic process and I will not do it.

“This Bill is of historic importance and in my view history will judge us poorly if this issue was thought to have been fast-tracked to the statute book without due regard to the established democratic and parliamentary processes.”

A rally will be held from 5pm this evening at the House of Lords in support of same-sex marriage, ahead of the vote on the Marriage (Same sex couples) Bill. Yesterday’s rally was attended by actor Russell Tovey, Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green Mike Freer, Shadow Home Secretary and Shadow Minister for Equalities, Yvette Cooper, Liberal Democrat peer Liz Barker and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

Baroness Barker stood to make a speech in which she spoke of her love for another woman – revealing publicly for the first time that she, herself, is in a same-sex relationship.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said to PinkNews.co.uk: “It is uncertain how the House of Lords will vote. We don’t know the extent of the opposition. It would be a big mistake to assume that equal marriage is a done deal.”